Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lady Rockstars extends musical empowerment to grownups

Growing up - at least in the `80s and `90s - it was common for a male child to receive a guitar for Christmas. If it clicked with him he'd toil away for hours in his bedroom mimicking Hendrix and Jimmy Page and Kirk Hammett. But I don't think it was all that common for girls to receive a coveted Christmas ax.

I was lucky. My father was an avid music fan and bought me an electric bass for my thirteenth birthday. My bass teacher was in Charlie McCoy's house band on "Hee Haw." I could watch him on TV every week when he wasn't showing me fingerings for "Summertime Rolls," "Paradise City" (the first song I learned) and "Glamour Boys."

But a lot of women didn't grow up in an environment as nurturing of their rock n' roll dreams. I put down my guitar a long time ago (except when I was locked in my husband's band practice space for three hours and had to figure out how to entertain my kids recently), but some women never picked up an instrument at all.

There's still time. Next week some of the women involved in this summer's Girls Rock CLT launch a similar experience for adults beginning with six week bass and guitar course. Lady Rockstars classes take place at Cube NoDa across from Amelie's and begin Wednesday October 15 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and again every Wednesday through mid November.

Instructors Kristen Borrelli and Krystle Sauls met through Girls Rock CLT this summer.

"After witnessing the way music transformed girls into self-confident rock stars at Girls Rock CLT Camp, we wanted to do the same thing for adult women," says Sauls, who teaches bass. "Our goal is to create a supportive and fun environment where women can come together, learn, and build confidence in themselves."

The first session is aimed at women 21 and over and wine will be served (free of charge), but if a demand is established another class for ages 16 to 20-year-olds is probable. Borrelli and Sauls also offer individual lessons for females of all ages.

Now one might think, "It's 2014, aren't women on equal footing in the guitar playing field?" And yes, we've made super strides since Nancy Wilson and Lita Ford. That said, I know when I moved here even though all girl bands existed, putting an all girl band together (which was truly what I would've preferred given my favorite bands) was fairly impossible. There were a handful of powerful female performers and band leaders in the area to look up to then, but I'm very proud of where young women in Charlotte have come over the years leading and playing in bands. That environment just wasn't where I was 20 years ago. I imagine there are still musicians out there looking for others to play with and others just wanting to learn to play.

How Lady Rockstars works is that each student chooses guitar or bass, which they can rent from Howren Music if they do not own one already. Students learn basic chords and technique and by the end of the first class can play a song. Bands, who choose a song to cover, are formed. The session ends with a public performance on November 22.

The class is $150 for new students and $190 for returning students (once the second session takes place). Reservations are required and tuition is due in full.

"Lady Rockstar classes aren't about being perfect. They are about realizing that everyone has it in them to rock," adds Sauls. "We want to inspire women by helping them understand they are capable of anything.

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